Why American Heart Association wants a fitness test to be part of a routine checkup
The American Heart Association recently issued a statement suggesting cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) be considered along with traditional risk factors to improve risk classification for adverse outcomes.
Evidence suggests CRF could be a stronger predictor of mortality than risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes.
- Physicians are aware that CRF affects outcomes, but Leonard Kaminsky, a professor at Ball State University and co-author of the statement, told The New York Times they generally “consider it to be relatively less important than other risk factors.”
Engaging in routine exercise is one of the best ways for patients to reduce their risk for numerous health conditions, including heart disease. However, CRF is not included in current formal heart disease risk calculations. The AHA hopes the statement will encourage physicians to more confidently consider CRF as a vital health measure.
Ideally, according to the statement, patients should have CRF assessed regularly and physicians should advise them to begin exercising if fitness levels are low. For patients with physicians who don’t assess CRF, the statement recommends using of several scientifically validated tools available online, such as the one here.
By improving CRF, one can improve their overall health immensely. For example, a recent study posited better cardiovascular health helps promote better mental health, which in turn has helped contribute to a decrease in dementia rates among elderly Americans. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently suggested that medical recommendations regarding physical activity should go further to lower risk for five chronic conditions, including breast and bowel cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, and ischemic strokes. WHO report suggested patients engage in at least 600 minutes of aerobic activity per week to reduce risk.